Cowboys players, coaches prepare for RG3
Cowboys at Redskins
Key matchup: Dallas’ pass rush vs. Washington’s O-line
Comment: Robert Griffin III has been sacked three or more times in five games this season. He’s also absorbed eight or more quarterback hits on five separate occasions.
On Thanksgiving Day, Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer-led pass rush accomplished both in the Redskins’ 38-31 victory at Cowboys Stadium.
But in order to score a season sweep – and claim their first division title in 13 years – the Redskins must do a better protecting Griffin when the teams meet Sunday at FedEx Field.
Ware, who is battling shoulder and elbow injuries, did not record a sack in the teams’ first meeting, but he has 11.5 on the season and was named to his seventh consecutive Pro Bowl on Wednesday. Spencer, meantime, sacked Griffin twice last month and has a total of 10 in 13 games.
“They have two talented pass rushers on both ends,” left tackle Trent Williams said, referring to Ware and Spencer. “You’re alone a lot of times, on an island. They are very talented, and when it’s one-on-one, they are hard to block.”
In the first quarter, Spencer dropped Griffin for a loss of seven yards, snuffing out a Redskins’ drive. In the third quarter, defensive tackle Jason Hatcher sprinted through the line almost unimpeded, crushing RG3 at the Redskins’ two-yard line. The eight-yard loss killed another drive.
Griffin’s fourth quarter interception, meantime, came as Ware and Spencer applied pressure from both sides. Griffin could have made a better throw – his feet were not set – but he clearly was rushed by the collapsing pocket. The Cowboys cashed in on their ensuing possession to trim a once-comfortable Redskins’ lead to 35-28.
Washington’s linemen are wary. And depending on the availability of starting right tackle Tyler Polumbus (concussion), the unit’s task could be a bit taller.
“Up front, they have a unique combination of speed, strength and quickness,” guard Chris Chester said. “It keeps you on your toes. Sometimes they can give you power. Sometimes they give you finesse. That’s what makes them effective.”